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Siegfried Fischbacher, of Legendary Duo Siegfried & Roy, Dies

Siegfried Fischbacher, a German-born illusionist and one half of the legendary duo Siegfried & Roy, died on Thursday, January 14th of pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Fischbacher’s death closely follows his partner and friend Roy Horn, who passed away last May due to complications caused by the coronavirus.

Fischbacher is most famously known for his Las Vegas performance with partner Horn, who was savagely mauled by a white tiger at the Mirage hotel-casino in 2003. The attack caused Horn to suffer from a stroke and was left partially paralyzed, but Horn always maintained that the tiger was innocent.

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Before the attack, the duo performed 5,000 shows during their 14-year stint at MGM’s Mirage hotel and casino. The pair met on a cruise ship in the 50s and were eventually discovered by an entertainment agent, making their Las Vegas debut at The Tropicana Hotel about ten years after performing at clubs throughout Switzerland and Germany.

Their show is considered one of the most famous and lavish Las Vegas shows in history, incorporating magic tricks and stunts with many tigers, lions, and other exotic animals. The format influenced many shows still performed today.

The duo cared for their exotic animal co-stars both on and off the stage. Associated Press reports that their $10 million compound housed dozens of rare animals as part of a preservation program that they started in the 1980s.

In 2009, Siegfried & Roy returned for a comeback performance before retiring from show business in 2010.

“From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world,” Fischbacher said in a statement reported by The New York Times following Horn’s death in May 2020. “There could be no Siegfried without Roy and no Roy without Siegfried.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and former Mayor Oscar Goodman released this statement, as reported on KTNV:

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“We are just crushed to have lost Siegfried our wonderful friend and giant entertainer. Anyone who came to town, their request was always, “I must see Siegfried and Roy!” They put Las Vegas on the map not only as spectacular illusionists but also as breeders, trainers, and caretakers of royal felines which grew to be an enormous part of their performance. Visitors to their personal home had the thrill of seeing the habitat where so many cubs were born and raised. And a trip to the Mirage Hotel and the Secret Garden was a treat one never could forget. More importantly than anything, Siegfried was the kindest and most loyal friend and a beautiful individual. What is calming now is to realize is that he is back with his life partner, Roy Horn, and at peace. You are loved, dear Siegfried.

The world will never forget you, Siegfried.

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